Philadelphia-based Saul Ewing is looking to beef up its Washington DC presence by merging with employment boutique Schmeltzer Aptaker & Shepard.

The agreement in principle to the merger, which would create a 300-attorney firm with six offices, was announced yesterday.

The managing partner of Saul Ewing, David Antzis, said in a statement: “This expansion will strengthen Saul Ewing in the Washington DC marketplace, particularly in the areas of labour and employment law, and our corporate and high tech and biotech practices. Our respective practices complement one another perfectly.”

Taking on Schmeltzer’s offices and 20-attorney headcount gives Saul Ewing more weight in Washington DC.

Saul Ewing is traditionally strong in real estate and restructuring in its offices across Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey and Maryland. Although it already has a presence in the capital, the fusion will make the DC office its third largest.

In addition to employment law expertise, Schmeltzer lawyers will bring skills in public policy and lobbying, essential for a sizeable DC office.

The new firm will be headed by Antzis and Schmeltzer’s managing partner, Ira Shepard. Saul Ewing’s lawyers will move into Schmeltzer’s offices in the Watergate Building by October 1. Although the merger is subject to partner and shareholder votes in both firms, it is expected to be completed later this month.

Sul Ewing made revenues of $113m and had 233 lawyers at the end of the last financial year.